Vineland the Musical

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007 | All Things, Arts, Music

At the old Union Square Savings Bank, now the Daryl Roth Theatre, for Vineland: a musical about wine, not Thomas Pynchon’s 1989 follow-up to Gravity’s Rainbow.

Union Square Savings Bank

If you haven’t heard of it, don’t be surprised. While most musicals are commercial productions, this was the first production I’d ever attended that may have been an actual commercial. Ostensibly, this was a “preview touring production” of a new musical based on the life and times of the Chilean vintner and senator Don Melchor de Concha y Toro, founder of the Concho y Toro winery.

Vineland the Musical

A pre-performance reception featured generous tastings of the vineyard’s Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil ) label: a Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot and a Carménère, alongside award-winning Andes Panquehue cheeses from Chile.

The show was billed as “a dramatic musical celebration about wine and the people who make it, staged around the modern roots of South American winemaking.” Okay, sure. There were a few allusions to Chilean political turmoil and social crisis, but most of that was lost among the treacly love songs, the hammy shenanigans of the estate’s (very, very) French cellarmaster and landscape designer, and the physical prowess of one ballet-dancing devil. The energetic performers gamely sung through even the lamest set pieces, and we in attendance could not help but be charmed a little. Did I mention that they plied us with wine — lots and lots of wine?

Luckily for director Marc Robin, just as impatience began setting in (coinciding with the wearing off of our pre-show buzz), the ushers trotted out trays loaded with glasses of sparkling Rosa Regale for the audience, as the entire cast took the stage to sing the toasting song finale, “Salud Amigos.” (Verdi need not watch his back.)

Vineland cast

Vineland cast

Maybe luck didn’t have all that much to do with the timing of the drinks after all.

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